Beginning around 1980 and continuing to the present time, organists who have shaped themselves for the music ministry have been subject to a purpose driven growth strategy originating with best selling author Dr. Rick Warren, past senior pastor and builder of Saddleback Church of Lake Forest, California, a mega-church congregation formerly associated with the Southern Baptist Convention. In his 1995 book The Purpose Driven Church Dr. Warren lays out a blueprint for church health (p. 290) with his "seeker service" concept which extends special preference to unchurched people. Among other things, it abandons traditional hymn singing (p. 285) and advocates replacing the organ with a MIDI keyboard and stage band. In his 2002 book The Purpose Driven Life, Dr. Warren also opines (p. 254) that "... people who do not understand your shape for ministry will ... try to get you to conform to what they think you should be doing. Ignore them." This doesn't leave much room for those who have shaped themselves for the ministry as organists -- those uncommon and singular souls who through their own specialized musical training and experience readily and willingly acknowledge that a) the Christian faith is a singing faith, b) nothing fabricated by the hand of man exerts the same masterdom in supporting congregational singing as THE God instrument, the organ, and c) there is value and edifying potential inherent in published hymn books and certain newly composed pieces for and standard works selected from the organ repertoire.
Churches which implement the seeker concept are advised in Dr. Warren's 1995 book (p. 39) to tell transfer members who have already made Jesus Christ the Lord of their lives to find a congregation elsewhere (unless they're willing to minister). Creating an artificial mismatch of this sort among members of the body of Christ is dangerously close to the manufactured disaccord and disharmony among His people which God, in His Word, says He hates (Prov. 6:19). The notion that whatever style of music has the ear of the general public must be the music of Christian worship, while masterfully argued in Section 15 of Dr. Warren's 1995 book, nevertheless has some things about it for the organist and church musician which call for a closer look. Getting back to basics: There's a big difference in Christian ministry between what people LIKEto hear rather than what people NEEDto hear. This has always been the case. Songs and hymns of praise pleasing to God appeal only to the spirit of the regenerate man (Rom. 8:6), thus the selection of worship music in a very practical sense becomes a choice between either maintaining the approbation of God or appealing to impious visitors. Ministers of the gospel of Christ cannot have it both ways when the prevailing musical tastes of an unsaved public remain subject to the sinful nature still active and working in their members on the one hand, and a holy God Who abhors worldly influences and Who cannot sin sits on the other hand, unreconcilable and uncompromising in His message and mission of redemption for sinful mankind. The apostle Paul warned the followers of Christ that as they mix with the world they are not to allow themselves to be conformed with it (Rom. 12:2). The walk of the believer is to be distinctly different from that of the world and not to mirror it (Eph. 2:1-3). The seeker sensitive strategy however has had great impact upon the churches of America and around the world and is one of the latest threads in a very complex fabric of conflicting differences among all of these various breeds of Christianity, each sort having settled upon and officially adopted its own mutually exclusive set of policies, procedures, interpretations, and methods of government (or non-government, as the case may be) to be rigorously advocated and closely adhered to by its members. The situation with which the Bible-oriented born-again organist and church musician is faced when seeking a congregation to serve and perhaps also considering possible membership among so many of these sundry, multifarious communions and persuasions is thus a very challenging one. Even within the same denomination the local expectations between congregations can be quite different.
It's helpful for organists and church musicians, regardless of their own personal beliefs, to understand something about the theological thinking of the people with whom they will be regularly interacting and serving. Each denomination or new church starting up wants to set itself apart from the others based upon its doctrine being, as it sees things, best in line with what it thinks the Word of God says. But there's something missing from that equation. One may have earned one or more advanced college degrees in any number of fields of study. They may have proven themselves time and again to have excellent reading comprehension. And yet, someone whose own spirit is inactive and dead to God may succeed in reading the Bible from cover to cover but will get little, if anything, out of it. Even though the Old and New Testaments are both about Christ, no one can think their way to Christ all by themselves. Only when someone is enlightened by the Holy Spirit can revelation from God be imparted to their own spirit to where they can interpret the Bible (John 6:44). Even though they may not know everything about what happened on that cross when Christ was crucified, His devoted followers can claim one thing and that is their faith in Him imparted by the Holy Spirit, a faith which makes them complete (Col. 2:8-9). Scripture says that NO ONE seeks God, not one (Rom. 3:10). It is rather God Who seeks man through the working of the Holy Spirit. Man has been running away from God from the very beginning (Gen. 3:8) -- so, when someone finds God, they don't owe it to any man-made game plan to draw them into church -- it's because God is a seeker of them (and He can run faster than they can!).God is in the business of changing lives, and it can happen in an instant by repenting, turning from sin, accepting Christ with faith, and surrendering one's life to Him. As stated, it's the Father Who draws people to Christ by means of the Holy Spirit (John 6:44) which is the same agent which also generates faith within them in strict accordance with them hearing the Word of God, not by hearing preselected music or anything else (Rom. 10:17). They end up saved by swimming into the security of the net of Christ of their own accord, not by means of surprise on the end of a baited hook (Matt. 4:19). .
Our listeners meet with a performance in the sense of a public presentation or exhibition, but the music ministry is not grounded in performance.
It is grounded in prayer, and in teaching.
The apostle Paul told the entire congregation of the church at Colosse to teach and admonish one another through the singing of psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with gratitude in their hearts (Col. 3:16). We therefore have it on the authority of the Word of God that congregational singing is not to be neglected. While the role of the music ministry in worship is supportive of and subordinate to the ministry of the Word, hymnals should not be gathered up and stored in boxes simply because the pastor or congregants fail to appreciate the musical treasure trove contained within them. In this day and age of self-help and feel-good messaging, worship music should not be selected merely as a matter of "relevance" or appeal simply because people want to hear in church the same pop and rock songs they hear on television or the internet. It should also not be chosen with the idea of holding the attention of an audience more effectively, or worse -- to facilitate an encounter with God or to move people closer to God. This last notion is a rather serious theological error. Music in this schema becomes a mediation between Deity and man, an idea which is closer to pagan practices than to Christian worship.
Popular, well-meaning, but mistaken notions such as this undermine the foundational biblical truth of the Christian faith that Christ is the only Mediator between God and man and that He alone is the One Who reconciles us to God (1Tim. 2:5). It seems ironic that while many Christians deny the sacramental role of those ordinances which Christ Himself gave to His church, viz. baptism and the Lord's Supper, they are fine with granting the music at a worship event some sort of sacramental power as if it were a means by which we enter the presence of God and receive His saving benefits. The fact of the matter is, there is nothing in Holy Scripture to indicate that music mediates or facilitates direct encounters or experiences with God. There's a fine line to be drawn here, one upon which, unfortunately, not all national assemblies, state synods, church boards, or professed ministers of the gospel of Christ agree. Some strongly embrace the idea of having a diverse musical program because they believe it reflects the diverse nature of God's creation and that a diverse means of making a joyful noise of praise is more likely to appeal to a congregation of diverse listeners and thus more likely to draw them closer to God. Caution here is needed: when the music at an event is looked upon as a means to encounter or lead people to God it can lead to several negative consequences, not the least of which is that the musicians become a surrogate for the Person of God's Spirit Who alone assumes that role in drawing people to Christ (John 6:44). Any time the people in a congregation start believing that the organist, pianist, or other performing instrumentalists in the back, up front, or on the platform at a worship event (including vocalists who perform with prerecorded music) are successfully moving them into God's presence, the musicians will have attained a status that's far too high for their own good.
One does not have to be a trained singer to lift up the voice in Christian worship as a congregant with the singing of psalms, hymns, and sacred songs. A Christian worship service is supposed to be about active participation, fellowship, using music to praise God and strengthen faith, communicating His Word, growing in understanding of the Lord's love and truth, and, if the true gospel is being preached, witnessing human lives changing for the better. It is not about man's preferences or making people feel good and affirming them just as they are when they come to church. Sadly, however, in some congregations the weekly sermon is being regularly and deliberately sanitized of all unsettling messaging, and, with what looks like comparable intention, the lifting of voices in praise is being confined to only a handful of stage performers, if not a single soloist. People like being entertained and for their condition to be validated, as is. So long as it resembles a live band concert or the latest musical extravaganza they may have attended or watched on television and no one is asking them to examine their consciences and empty themselves of pride, people usually don't mind sitting though a church service ... but they tend to get disturbed at messages from the pulpit about their own sinfulness operating as a law within them, their need for a complete turnaround in their thinking and a commitment to walk differently in the future, and other matters of critical importance such as the coming judgment, heaven and hell, prophecy, or the price they must pay in this life to follow Christ, to name just a few. They don't care to listen to a message of God's love and truth if it means hearing that they've been deceived, duped, and brainwashed by a devil, that they're crossways with God in their sins, and that they need to fundamentally change to inherit eternal life. They would much rather listen to a prosperity and feel-good gospel that promises divine favor and a thriving life of temporal blessings and good fortune in the here and now. The latter is a false gospelthat some organists and church musicians may unintendingly find themselves using the organ and lending their talents to promote. It is NOT of God.Why? Because you can bet that anything which prioritizes earthly life over eternal life and keeps a person occupied looking for benedictions from above while their soul is completely unprepared for eternity is counterfeit and of the devil. Christ Jesus reminded His followers that once the human soul has been exposed to the true gospel, has rejected it, and has arrived in hell, anything earthly will mean nothing (Matt. 16:26). The truth is, we find, pick up, and experience periods of happiness when we obey God, when we do our duty to lead a disciplined life before Him, and when we do His will by following and becoming a new creation in the Lord Jesus Christ. It's far better to speak the full truth from the pulpit that initially unsettles and then heals than to promote a partial truth from the pulpit that initially comforts and then kills.
When someone says they don't want to listen to hell-preaching preachers when they go to church they're also saying that they don't want to listen to Christ Jesus or the Word of God. The subject of hell and the judgment of the lost is referred to at least 162 times in the New Testament, and over 70 of these instances were personally taught by Christ Jesus Himself. Scripture records that He spoke twice as much of hell than he did of heaven. He also called people to pursue the joy of salvation made possible by God's love and truth, not to expect to live their best life in this world (John 16:33). It is the will of a sovereign, loving, just, and holy God that man sold under sin either dies once and lives twice [by being under the provision of God's grace] OR that man lives once and dies twice [by being under the provision of the law]. Any teacher or preacher who cares about where people will spend eternity will teach or preach not what people want to hear but what they need to hear. Ministers of the gospel who are true to their ordained calling from God and obligations to Christ will see that the full counsel of God is taught and preached for the purpose of saving the unsaved and edifying those already in Christ so that they may grow further in Him. They also will sense that any other teaching or preaching done to accomodate cultural trends and minimize offense to the public or those who are living in spiritual darkness is false. The full biblical message is not about what people want to hear but what God has already declared.
Here's the thing: The Bible tells us that it is God's will that we become more and more like His Son Jesus, that God wants to change us from within, taking away everything that dishonors Him and replacing it on the inside with Christ's love and purity. There are many people today going through the prescribed motions of religion but cannot enter the kingdom of God because they have never fully surrendered their lives to Christ and never invited Him to indwell their heart and live His life in them. They're sorry for their sins, to be sure, but they never repented and relinquished completely, abandoned, and turned their backs forever on their own sinful ways of thinking and doing. They were never converted by the Holy Spirit into a new creation in Christ, never clothed in His righteousness, and thus never had their names entered into the Lamb's Book of Life (Matt. 18:3, John 3:3-8, Rev. 20:11-15). How sad, that some who think they're already heaven bound because of their religiosity, who had their names on the role of a church, who may have sung in the choir, played in the church orchestra, accompanied the congregation on the organ, cooked or cleaned or did other work for the church, attended services regularly, did everything religion required of them including being baptized, will end up self-condemned in the judgment because they were never born again. They never made Jesus the Lord of their life. Hell [Gr. Hades] is filled not only with out-and-out sinners, the self-righteous, and procrastinators, but also with lost church-goers, i.e. those fans of Jesus who practiced their religion, played church one day a week, and never became a new creation in Christ. Repeating: to repent means more than just being sorry for one's sins; it means a 180 degree change of mind, a total rejection of one's past sinful habits. Christ is not looking for a fan club. He can't use fans, i.e. people who like Him but are still clinging to residual sins from which, as a member of the Godhead, He is obliged to withdraw. He wants followers. He wants individuals willing to walk away from their sins forever and lay it all on the line for Him. Only within such a person can His Spirit come and make its home with them. Only within a follower can He live His life in them and they become more like Him in character. So long as someone continues in sin the powers of darkness aren't interested. Once someone decides to truly follow Christ however, and Christ comes and makes His home inside them and His truth becomes the truth of that person's heart, it gets the attention of the devil and his minions, and life in this world does not become easier for that person. If such a person lets up one day in staying close to Christ after that, they're in for it.
God has a plan for peace. It is found in His Son Whom the Bible calls the Prince of Peace (Isa. 9:6). But man has rejected God's plan, and wars still ravage our world and our lives. The cause is sin -- a personal, internal rebellion against God -- and it brings unending misery. But God longs to see this rebellion cease. This happens when we repent and receive Christ. The internal war is then over, for God extends a peace treaty to all who come to Christ. Being a Christian therefore isn't about religion or even a philosophy. It's about having a personal relationship with God. Truth in the Bible isn't a concept -- it's about a Person. Jesus Christ is truth, and it is He who sets us free from the bondage of sin. But there is a price to be paid for having that relationship with God through Christ. THATprice ... is to be misunderstood, unliked, criticized, opposed, accused, and rejected by the world ... just like Jesus was. Receiving Christ and letting Him live His life inside us may cost us our job, our finances, our business reputation, our marriage, our family, our possessions, our friends, our freedom, even our life. The Bible teaches that this world's system is dominated by the absence of the love of God in the hearts and minds of man, which is how "evil" is defined, along with Satanic cosmic printiples of pride and envy and selfishness and ambition and pleasure which seem to be in control most of the time. The world's system in which we find ourselves is very powerful. It is often outwardly religious and scientific and cultured and elegant but underneath is seething with rivalries and jealousies and lust and greed and hatred. That's the world. And Jesus said the world would not like His own because they are following Him. He said if it hated Him, it would hate them (John 15:18-25). But Jesus met this world with all of its evil, He met the devil, He met the flesh which means the evil principle within man, and took upon Himself at the cross the penalty in full so that sinful man might be redeemed from the works of the world, the works of the devil, the works of the flesh, and his sinful state might be permanently reversed. And yet, the price to follow Christ in this world is nothing compared with the price He Himself paid to save us from perishing in our sins. The most sinful place in the history of the world was the cross of Christ. Jesus at His crucifixion became the most sinful person who ever lived. The Scripture says He became sin for us (2Cor. 5:21). He had never known sin. He had never known separation from God the Father. All of a sudden He not only had the sins of the people of that generation but He had the sins of all mankind, every person that will ever live, He had all sin heaped upon Him. He became guilty of every single sin. Think of it -- someone who knew no sin and was suddenly guilty of every sin ever committed by every human being who will ever live. The great hymn writers and sacred song writers of the past thought of it. His suffering was ten thousand times worse than that of the average man who would be crucified. He was suffering spiritually when he cried, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?!" (Matt. 27:46). The Father and Holy Spirit, because they abhor and withdraw from sin, completely abandoned Him at the cross, to fare all on His own.
Compare that now with the price to be paid if we live this life and die without Christ. THATprice ... is being subject after death to all the requirements of the law (since we were never under grace) and a judgment adjudicated at a great white throne by none other than Jesus Christ Himself (John 5:22) and inevitably to be found guilty in a trial for dishonoring God, trampling upon His laws, and self-condemned to join the devil and his angels in the final destination of eternal separation from God and punishment prepared for them, a place where man was never meant to go .. and all this after God did everything within His power to keep us out of there, even to sending His Son to die on a cross to keep us out (Matt. 25: 41-46). When this judgment arrives no slick lawyer, no shrewd person is going to be able to bribe this Judge or get someone out of their sentence by throwing themselves upon the mercy on the court. There will be no mercy shown or forgiveness extended at this judgment. It won't matter whether someone is up and out, out and out, or down and out, all the pleading someone can muster then will be of no avail because mercy and forgiveness in Christ is being offered to all, right now, as a free gift, and God will not trespass on our free moral agency to live any kind of life we want to. If someone wants mercy now, they may have it. If someone wants forgiveness now, they may have it. But the destiny of every human soul who dies without Christ [save for those few special souls who will be judged differently due to never hearing about Jesus in this life or who were born without the mental capacity to understand] will be eternal separation from God of their own free choice. They are in fact already dead in their transgressions and sins by following the ways of this world. But fire cannot go where fire has already been. Jesus endured the fire of God's judgment at the cross. The true gospel message of salvation by grace through faith in Him can be found embedded in the wording of many of the old traditional hymns which have stood the test of time. Sadly, it isn't unusual to find in some of the contemporary Christian services and gatherings where music assumes a prominent role these days for the true gospel message reflected in traditional hymnody to be shortchanged and marginalized. Faith however does not come from worshiptainment, dynamic experiences, or supposed encounters with God. It is birthed and strengthened through the proclamation of God's Word (Rom.10:17). When people get to associating God's presence with a particular feeling from a musical experience the question arises as to what happens when they no longer feel it. Such believers often search for churches where the praise band, orchestra, or pipe organ produces in them the feelings they're chasing when the reality of God in their lives actually depends upon God the Father, through the Holy Spirit, drawing them to Christ, not on subjective experiences.
NOTE: One of the many reasons a personal relationship with Christ is so vital and imperative for born again believers is so they will not fall prey to the many, many errors taught from manmade doctrines which are promoted and propagated from the pulpits. The current global body of more than 2 million Christians is separated into thousands of denominations -- a staggering and shocking number. A denomination being defined as a recognized autonomous branch of the Christian church, the very word means division, the opposite of unity. Each and every denomination, sect, branch thinks that they have God's Word all figured out and that they are all going to experience life everlasting once their time on earth is complete. There is not one manmade denomination that has it all right. We know this because they are made up of humans, and humans are fallible. So instead of calling out false teachings we are left with divides, factions, and thousands of manmade denominations from which to choose. Close enough is not good enough where salvation is concerned, which is why each person needs a personal relationship with the Father and Son and cannot rely upon their pastor/minister/clergy, church, religion, or denomination to intercede on their behalf. Each person alone is responsible for their own salvation. No less thirteen times in the gospels, Jesus said to follow Him (John 8:12). It's a fact that what God desires in these last days is being fought against by church people who have trained their ears to hear religious jargon to the point that they can't hear what the Spirit is saying if it isn't communicated in that language. There are many who, if the Holy Spirit goes against their manmade religious language, behavior, or traditions, they remain spiritually deaf because in their minds they can't hear God moving outside of their small religious box. They don't know the voice of God -- all they know is the voice of religion.
One's love of God imparted by the indwelling Holy Spirit is a greater motivator for man to live a godly life than fear of punishment or rejection, but the leaders of Paul's day couldn't comprehend justification apart from performance, and the majority of religious leaders today also reject these claims. What is commonly being preached is that God withdraws from people when they do wrong and draws closer as they do better -- another way of saying that God gives people what they deserve -- but since no one really deserves anything from the Lord they reason that there has to be a little bit of grace mixed with performance to win the acceptance of the masses. Paul makes it clear that this theory doesn't wash (Rom. 11:6). People are either acceptable to God based upon what they do or upon what Christ has done for them, not a combination of the two -- it's either all works or all grace. It has to be one way or ther other. Repentance and faith in Christ plus nothing else effects grace, accredits His righteousness, and equals total victory (Luke 23:39-43, Rom. 3:26). This is the key to being sanctified and justified before a holy God and experiencing all of God's best, a concept seized upon by many inspired hymn writers and illustrated in the words of traditional Christian hymns expressive of faith, redemption, and salvation.
There is a tendency for people who identify a feeling as an encounter with God where only a particular kind of music produces that feeling to insist that this same type of music be played regularly in their church. If everyone else in the congregation were to agree with that, then unity among them, albeit in error, is a possibility ... but, if others depend upon a different kind of music to produce the feeling that is important to them, then potential division within the church of Christ, one of the things the devil is interested in stirring up, is cultivated. For anyone who gets used to associating particular feelings from listening to music as encounters with God, their demands for what produces those feelings usually become very rigid. This is one reason why certain well-meaning pastors who are trying to hold their congregations together sometimes succumb to the temptation to offer multiple styles of worship services which, unfortunately, can have the unwanted and unintended effect of sanctioning division and self-centeredness. There is but ONE style of a worship service, however, and that is to have prayer and Christ Jesus at the center of it. Worship, including the music associated with it, is not entertainment -- it is a means, a vehicle, an instrument, of cleansing to help purify the human heart.
It is not too much to say that once the worship team (or whatever it's called) takes over and the congregation stops singing and becomes superfluous except as an audience, it's very wrong on all levels. The devil understands this and uses music and musicians, as tools and surrogates, respectively, within the churches to cunningly deceive the unwary by getting them to think that music is useful for drawing people to their object of worship, something that is nowhere found in Scripture and, as stated, actually has more in common with pagan practices than Christian worship. Satan would just as soon send people to hell from a pew as he would the gutter -- it makes no difference to him. Sadly, certain Christian evangelists, pastors, and ministers also have been influenced by this same thinking. By way of review, Christ said that no one can come to Him unless the Father Who sent Him draws them (John 6:44). The channel or agent which does the "drawing" is none other than the Holy Spirit, NOT the performing arts or any other human agency. It is the Person of God's Spirit Who reveals to someone, in gentle spiritual nudgings and inner awareness, Who Christ is, how much Christ loves them, why they need Him, and why they should follow Him. This was revealed to the apostle Peter, for example, NOT by song or hymn but solely and exclusively by the Spirit of God working on his mind supernaturally (Matt.16:13-17). It's absolutely biblical to use song and hymn to TEACH the message of Christ (Col. 3:16), but there's nothing in Scripture to indicate that God has ever used song or hymn as an agency to DRAW people to Christ or that people should presume that the Holy Spirit resorts to using musical sound vibrations to reach the hearts of men when all else fails. Those who have been saved at a certain worship service who claim it was the music at that event which drew them to Christ need to understand that it was the presence of God's Spirit at that event Who drew them, not the music they heard. The music may or may not have been written or improvised under the guiding influence of God's Spirit, but the combination of tones, how they're arranged, and how they're realized in performance, no matter how uplifting and edifying the resulting sound may seem to be, has no saving power. Remove the Holy Spirit from the equation -- and NO ONE listening to worship music is saved. Repeating, Christ Himself indicated that the Person of God's Spirit reaches the hearts of men supernaturally (John 6:44). It's rather important for those working in the music ministry to know and understand the subtlety of this difference.
SOMETHING ELSE DEMANDS COMMENT: Those contemporary composers who are writing art music for the King of Instruments authentically(that is, on an unrestricted canvas with freedom unabridged to express the entire range of musical thought and human emotion at the touch of a key) may be surprised to learn that Satan, the prince of the power of the air whose pride, envy, jealousy, greed, malice, and hatred for God is implacable and incurable, has influenced certain composers to write so-called Dark Gothic organ music, sometimes called Dark Ambient Fantasy music, to facilitate his own devious agenda to dupe, befool, distract, and blind the minds of as many human souls as he can, that they may then look upon their own sinfulness and need for redemption as inconsequential. This is a deadly serious matter. Not satisfied simply tampering with, hustling, mis-recording, and redubbing BWV 565 as "the Dracula toccata," something which would have had J.S. Bach infuriated [See blog, Bach d minor, Part III], self-serving individuals like these have used their God-given talents and modern music-writing technology in even more revolting ways by composing brand new pagan ritual and satanic ceremonial organ music of their own, making computer-generated audio clips of the same, and posting these on social media as Dark Gothic slide shows easily accessible, even to children. These pathetic, gullable musicians, sad to say, are allowing themselves to be talked into hell by the same devious, malevolent cherub who had the ability to talk a third of the angels out of heaven. These people are dishonest about revealing who they are. They adopt fictitious mystery names to conceal their true identities, deviously try to hide behind them, have no clue about how many other culpable people these musical creations of theirs will irretrievably harm, and don't care. The organ music they manage to forge is typically devoid of animated counterpoint, is improvisatory in nature, and generally separates into three primary stereotypical types: 1) the brooding, mysterious piece of irregular free rhythm and arcane mood, 2) the lively dance-like piece of thin texture and regular rhythm, and 3) the invariably loud piece of acrimonious mood having dissonant notes and chords held against animated repetitive figuration. Within this broad classification there are multiple subtypes of each grouping which vary in texture, tempo, dynamics, and registration. This trinity of types and subtypes also is found blended into a single massive admixture, producing a lengthy meandering fantasia that could occupy an hour or more of listening. Written invariably in minor keys using a triadic tonal vocabulary, this music is jam-packed with a preponderance of minor chords moving above droning pedal points; it makes liberal use of tritones and other dissonant intervals, tonally ambiguous bare 4ths and 5ths, and is peppered with agitated, repeated patterns that rudely intrude themselves. Not surprisingly, while it's cleverly contrived for its intended effect of fostering nervous apprehension and dread among listeners, this music is ambiguous in form, speaks only in somber and abridged musical language, writes its own rules, and takes unexpected turns, sometimes roaming about the tonal landscape like a roaring lion, modulating to suit itself.
It's disturbing enough that creepy "haunted house music" like this manufactured solely for its shock factor is being adored and applauded as the work of genius, which it is NOT -- it cannot begin to compare with the masterpieces of giants like Bach, Reger, Franck, or Vierne -- but it's nothing short of horrifying to discover that more and more gulled individuals who have come under its malicious charms, people for whom Christ died, are filling their ears with it every day and seriously contemplating this bogus and pretentious babel for their own wedding and funeral music. Make no mistake: Dark Gothic or Dark Ambient Fantasy music is NOT authentically written, as thus defined; it is nothing of the kind -- it is written in a tenebrous and ghoulish shorthand using means that are always predictably dictated -- it is improvised in a murky and caliginous dialect that is always slavishly followed -- it is the product of dark intelligence and design -- a morose and at times raucous, counterfeit clamor practiced by rueful, lamentable human souls who have dabbled in the occult, hardened their hearts, turned their backs on and mocked God, Christ, and the Bible, planted their flags with the powers of darkness, put themselves on a very dangerous track, and are quite happy to stay there [See blog, An Annointed Ministry, Part V]. Crafted under and inspired by the Muse of demonic influence and publicized from behind a wall of secrecy, scores like this (some of which have been made printable for a fee) are an artificial and defective substitute for the real thing. Such scores are fabricated by imprisoned minds held in restraints. It is creativity stripped of liberty and license, robbed of all traces of equanimity, composure, peace, serenity, poised assurance, and joy, and are coldly calculated to rob the listener of the same. Such scores in their cookie-cutter semblance have nothing to teach, no innocuous or beneficial use not even for private let alone public amusement, and, by sounding as if heavily influenced by supernatural or supernormal powers or some secret knowledge of them, stand in bold defiance of the righteous wrath and retributive justice of Almighty God Who considers ALL forms of occultism an abomination (1Cor. 10:21). For organists and church musicians in whom the Spirit of God is or should be dwelling, this is as just about as repulsive and sinful as it gets, it expresses contempt for the one true God Who gives the great gift of music to man, and it's a ticket to follow rebellious angels into an unimaginably awful and eternal place of punishment made just for them, a place where people were never meant to go. Hell was never created for man. God will never send anybody to hell. If man goes to hell, he goes by his own free choice. Hell was created for the devil and HIS angels, NOT for man. Man was never meant to go there, and God has done everything within His power to keep us out. He even sent His Son to die on a cross to keep us out.
There were moments in the past when every traditional hymn which has stood the test of time was brand new. It follows therefore that worship music would do well as a mix of a bit of the contemporary with the traditional. As for instrumentation it's important to keep an open mind and give every musical instrument used in worship its due. It should be freely admitted however that the pipe organ can reach the soul of man like no other single musical instrument on the face of this earth, hands down. The devil knows this and is in league with the silencing and/or removal of pipe organs and their electronic substitutes from churches in whatever way he can influence gullible man to do so, wherever he can. It is not too much to say that if any church leaders listening to a master organist playing a ringing, triumphant hymn of praise on a large, full functioning pipe organ are so little stirred by the glorious sound and sheer, thrilling power they're hearing that it has them longing instead for an exclusive stage group consisting of vocalist, keyboard, guitar, and drum set, then something is amiss.
The Word of God is full of exhortations to God's people to sing and make music to the Lord, and He has been gracious to give man the means and the great gift of music to praise Him. The word "gospel" means "good news," and that same gospel or good news of Christ Jesus is that Almighty God is an awesome, holy God Who loves us, and, while He has created us as free moral agents and given us the ability to make decisions for ourselves and live any kind of life we want, He will not trespass on our own free choice. He will not force us to love Him back or follow His laws of life and good. To God, sin is abhorent, and He withdraws from it. And, even in spite of all this, He has forgiveness and mercy to offer us sinners separated from Him a plan of redemption to bring us back to Himself. These same sentiments are expressed in the stanzas of a great many hymns of praise that fill our anthem and hymn books. Faith -- confidence in God -- can grow and become stronger because God wants it to grow. God has provided the resources to achieve this, among which are churches where Christ is lifted up and the Bible is read. Faith grows when the mind and soul are saturated with the Word of God, and hymns and anthems are important tools in the hands of organists and church musicians to couple the powers at work in music with God's Word to change lives. This means that a church should not and should never sound like a night club. God-honoring church music is NOT the music of the broad road (Matt. 7:13). It is NOT a loud, raucous product with a driving beat that's popular in the unregenerate community and appeals to the flesh. It is NOT defined by a very sad, insidious, and dangerous vision that says the old stalwarts in the congregation will have to leave who oppose the switch to contemporary pop/rock band music preeminently intended to bring in crowds and raise numbers -- a vision which downplays the spiritual maturity of some of the dear, godly, long-time saints in the congregation who are justifiably heartsick about what happened to their church after its leaders attended a Saddleback seminar. It IS made, however, for at least four other purposes:
1) to offer praise of and thanksgiving to God (Ps.147:7),
2) to express the joy of salvation in loud and jubilant rejoicing (Ps.98:4-5),
3) to teach the message of Christ and admonish others in a spirit of gratitude (Col.3:16), and
4) to demonstrate, feed, and strengthen the faith of believers (Matt.26:30, Mark14:26, Acts16:25).